The Daily Dystopian

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Surf-Worthy Sites:

Administration and Cost of Elections

Alaska Wilderness League

American Antitrust Institute

American Association of Retired Persons

American Federation of Government Employees

American Friends Service Committee

American Institute of Philanthropy

American Lands Alliance

American Library Asociation

American Peace

American Rivers

Americans for Computer Privacy

Americans for Democratic Action

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Amnesty International

Anthrax Vaccine Network

Arms Control Association

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Atomic Veterans of America


Behind the Label

Black Box Voting

Bread for the World

Brennan Center for Justice


Business and Human Rights Resource Center

Campaign Against Arms Trade

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium

Campaign Finance Institute

Campaign for America's Future

Campaign for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water

Campaign for the Abolition of Sweatshops and Child Labor

Campaign to Ban Genetically Engineered Foods

Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods

CEE BankWatch Network

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Defense Information

Center for Democracy and Citizenship

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for Food Safety

Center for International Policy

Center for Justice and Accountability

Center for National Security Studies

Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Center for Public Integrity

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Center for Voting and Democracy

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Chemical Industry Archives

Chernobyl Children's Project

Child Labor Coalition

Child Protective Services Watch

Children's Defense Fund

Chilling Effects Clearinghouse

Christian Aid

Chronic IllNet

Chronology of Incorporation and Monopoly

Citizen Action Project

Citizen Works

Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens for Tax Justice

Citizens Network on Essential Services

Clary-Meuser Research Network

Clean Clothes Campaign

Coalition for a Competitive Pharmaceutical Market

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Commercial Alert

Common Cause

Common Dreams

Commonweal Institute

Community Rights Council

Concord Coalition


Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Project on Technology

Consumer Research

Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering

Corporate Crime Reporter

Corporate Europe Observatory

Corporate Responsibility Coalition

Corporate Sunshine Working Group

Corporate Welfare Information Center

Corporate Welfare Shame Page


Corps of Engineers Watch

Council for a Livable World

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Cronus Connection: Election Fraud and Voting Machines

Death Penalty Information Center

Defense and the National Interest

Democracy 21


Depleted Uranium Education Project

Depleted Uranium Watch

DES Action


Disabled American Veterans

Discernment Ministry International



Earth Institute


EarthRights International

Economic Policy Institute

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Electronic Voting

Endgame Research

Energy Future Coalition

Environmental Investigation Agency

Environmental Working Group

Facts About Olestra

Fair Taxes for All

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting


Families of
September 11

Families USA: Voice for Health Care Consumers

Family Farm Alliance

Farm Credit Quagmire

FAS Project on Government Secrecy

FDA Review

Federation of American Scientists

Fellowship of Reconciliation

Fielding's DangerFinder

Fight Bad Faith Insurance Companies

Focus on the Corporation

Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights

Fourth Freedom Forum

Free Expression Policy Project

Friends of the Earth

Genocide Documentation Centre

Genocide in the 20th Century

Global Exchange


GRACE Factory Farm Project

Gulf War Veterans

Gush Shalom

Health Care Comparisons Worldwide

Health Privacy Project

Healthy Building Network

Heifer International

History House

Human Rights Watch

iAbolish: Anti-Slavery Web Portal


Independent Judiciary

Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton

Infact: Challenging Corporate Abuse

Initiative & Referendum Institute

Instant Runoff Voting

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Institute for Health Freedom

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Institute for Policy Studies

Institute for Public Accuracy

Interfaith Alliance

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

International ANSWER

International Atomic Energy Agency

International Campaign to Ban Landmines

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

International Federation for Alternative Trade

International Fellowship of Reconciliation

International Institute for Environment and Development

International Labor Rights Fund

International POPs Elimination Network

Jewish Unity for a Just Peace

Keep Antibiotics Working

Landmine Survivors Network

League of Conservation Voters

League of Women Voters

Let's Invest in Families Today

Liberals Like Christ

Local Harvest

Los Alamos Study Group

Low Level Radiation Campaign

Maquila Solidarity Network

March for Justice


Measles Initiative

Mines Advisory Group


Mothers for Peace

Moving Ideas

National Center for Children in Poverty

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

National Committee for an Effective Congress

National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare

National Farmers Union

National Freedom of Information Coalition

National Freedom Scorecard

National Gulf War Resource Center

National Institute on Money in State Politics

National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights

National Organization for Rare Disorders

National Parks Conservation Association

National Priorities Project

National Vaccine Information Center

National Voting Rights Institute

Native American Rights Fund


Natural Resources Defense Council

Neturei Karta

New Rules Project


No Free Lunch: Just Say No to Drug Reps

No Spray Coalition

Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development

Nuclear Control Institute

Nuclear Threat Initiative

Office of Management & Budget Watch Money in Politics

Open Society Institute

Organic Consumers Association

Our Stolen Future

Oxfam International

Participatory Democracy

Pax Christi International

People for the American Way

Pesticide Action Network North America

Physicians for Human Rights

Polaris Institute

Political Money Line

Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

Project Against the Present Danger

Project on Government Oversight

Project Underground

Project Vote Smart

Protection Project


Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibity

Rainforest Action Network


Reaching Critical Will

Reclaim Democracy

Reclaim the Media


Resource Center of the Americas

Responsible Wealth

Rethinking Schools

Right-To-Know Network

Safe Tables Our Priority: Food Safety and Food-Borne Illness


Save the Children

Secretive World of Voting Machines

Send a Cow

September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Shared Hope International

Small Business Survival Committee

Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Soft Money Laundromat

Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace

Soldiers for the Truth

Soy Online Service

Sprawl Busters


Stop Carnivore

Stop Disney Sweatshops

Stop Patient Abuse Now Coalition


Sweetwater Alliance

Swords to Plowshares

Talion: Voting Machines

Tax Foundation

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Ten Thousand Villages

Third World Traveler

Tort Reform Reader


Transparency International

Traprock Peace Center

Truth About Credit

20/20 Vision

UN Landmines Fact Sheet

UN Population Fund

Union of Concerned Scientists

United for a Fair Economy

United for Peace & Justice

Uranium Medical Research Centre

US Campaign to Ban Landmines

US Congregational Life Survey

US Public Interest Research Group

Veterans for Common Sense

Vital Voices Global Partnership

VoteWatch: Repository for Voter Complaints

Water Aid

Water Barons Government Accountability Project

Wilderness Society

WISE Uranium Project

Womens International League for Peace & Freedom

World Resources Institute

WorldWatch Institute

Worldwide Fund for Mothers Injured in Childbirth


Yucca Mountain Facts

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Saturday, July 12, 2003

The Daily Show on Bill Moyers

Jon Stewart was great--here's the transcript:

I think, honestly, we're--practicing a new form of desperation. Where we just--are so inundated with--mixed messages from the media and from politicians that we're just trying to sort it out for ourselves...

Crossfire or Hard Ball? Which is funnier? Which is more soul-crushing, you mean? Both are equally dispiriting in their--the whole idea that political discourse has degenerated into shows that have to be entitled Crossfire and Hard Ball. And you know I'm gonna beat your ass or whatever they're calling them these days is--mind-boggling...

You know what's great? Watch a Bush press conference, and then turn on-- Tony Blair and Parliament. Where he literally has to sit in front of his most vociferous critic. And that critic will say, "Sir, on the 13th, the dossier of the French, would not the nuclear. You were hiding things. How do you answer, sir?"

Yes, I've watched those rowdy sessions on C-Span, and I'm so jealous.

dystopia 2:50 PM - [Link]

Second Servicewoman Killed in Iraq

She died on Wednesday, from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

I read about it yesterday but decided not to post anything because I was still hoping it would turn out not to be true. I looked for it on cable news last night, which I generally avoid (and, BTW, was fascinated by the unusual amount of flak flying toward Fortunate Son & Co). Watched maybe an hour in all on different stations, and didn't find anything anywhere about a servicewoman being killed in Iraq. Nothing on my local news stations either.

Finally saw it this morning on CNN, as a little tiny headline that flashed by as the twit on camera delivered nothing of any real importance.

It's surreal. I wonder how what percentage of Americans outside of her state can remember the name of the first servicewoman killed in Iraq? How many even remember that there was one?

dystopia 1:42 PM - [Link]

Tenet Takes the Fall

He's still alive, so he's not the sin offering--I guess that makes him the scapegoat:

He is to cast lots for the two goats--one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. -- Leviticus 16:8-10.

I have faith that God will sort it all out properly in the end but, in the meantime, these yahoos still have to answer to all of us. I'm not the least bit satisfied that the case is closed, and I don't think you are either.

dystopia 12:36 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 12

1679: Britain's King Charles II ratified the Habeas Corpus Act, a protection against illegal imprisonment.

1810: Members of a shoemakers' union faced trial in NYC for striking to win better wages.

1840: US forces launched a punitive expedition against the natives of Fiji, after two officers landing in the islands without permission were attacked and killed.

1843: Mormon Church leader Joseph Smith said God had revealed to him that polygamy was acceptable.

1871: After Protestant Irish were shot by Catholic Irish snipers on NY's Eighth Avenue, a bloody riot involving Irishmen, police, and infantry broke out; 51 were killed.

1878: A yellow fever epidemic began in New Orleans, eventually killing over 4,000 people.

1909: Congress authorized income tax with the 16th Amendment.

1917: The Bisbee Deportation of IWW miners by vigilantes into the Sonoran desert; over 1,000 men were shipped on a train to Hermanas, NM, and abandoned.

1934: The US Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz Island was abandoned.

1951: Gov Adlai Stevenson called up the National Guard to stop rioting in Cicero, IL when a mob of 3,500 tried to keep a black family from moving into the city.

1957: The Surgeon General reported that "smoking was a causative factor in the etiology of lung cancer." It was the first time the US Public Health Service had taken a position on the subject.

1965: Lt Frank Reasoner died helping his injured radio officer during a Vietcong ambush; he was the first Marine in Vietnam to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

1966: Race riots erupted in Chicago and Cleveland.

1969: Half the Top 40 radio stations in the US banned the Beatles' Ballad of John & Yoko because of the lyrics, "Christ, you know it ain't easy ..."

1974: John Ehrlichman, former aide to President Nixon, and three others were convicted of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist.

1977: President Carter defended Supreme Court rulings limiting government payments for poor women's abortions: "There are many things in life that are not fair."

1985: In hand-written records, Oliver North noted a call from Richard Secord discussing a Honduran warehouse where Contras were to buy weapons with money the Reagan administration secretly raised from Saudi Arabia.

1993: US helicopters attacked a Mogadishu villa; at least 54 Somalis were killed and another 174 wounded; four Western journalists who rushed to the scene were killed by an angry mob.

1995: The American Medical Association excoriated the tobacco industry over secret Brown & Williamson papers, finding that the US public was undeniably duped by the tobacco industry.

1999: WTO arbitrators awarded the US $116.8 million in damages from the European Union over its ban on hormone-treated beef.

dystopia 10:25 AM - [Link]

Friday, July 11, 2003

Bitchin' About Bush

A fun read by the editors of National Review:

The news this summer has been rather bleak for conservatives...[Ed. note: Ha! I'll bet]

We have never been under any illusions about the extent of Bush's conservatism. He did not run in 2000 as a small-government conservative, or as someone who relished ideological combat on such issues as racial preferences and immigration. We supported him nonetheless in the hope that he would strengthen our defense posture, appoint originalist judges, liberalize trade, reduce tax rates, reform entitlements, take modest steps toward school choice. Progress on these fronts would be worth backsliding elsewhere. We have been largely impressed with Bush's record on national security, on judicial appointments (although the big test of a Supreme Court vacancy will apparently not occur during this term), and on taxes. On the other issues he has so far been unable to deliver...

Conservatives, finally, have to find ways to work with the Republicans — their fortunes are linked — while also working on them...And as recent events underscore, this is not a bad time for conservatives to declare their independence from the GOP establishment.

Ouch! He's gettin' on everybody's nerves, huh? That's good to know.

dystopia 3:28 PM - [Link]

Among Democrats, Energy Seems to Be on the Left

The only ones I can find who think otherwise are the DLC and those asinine talking heads in the mainstream media. The Washington Post says:

They do not call themselves "liberals" anymore; the preferred term today is "progressives." But in other ways, they are much the same slice of the electorate that dominated the Democratic Party from 1972 to the late 1980s: antiwar, pro-environment, suspicious of corporations and supportive of federal social services.

In recent weeks, the progressive left has: lifted a one-time dark-horse presidential candidate, former Vermont governor Howard Dean, into near-front-runner status; dominated the first serious Internet "primary"; and convened the largest gathering of liberal activists in decades.

The liberal is the fastest-growing political action committee in the Democratic Party. Left-leaning labor leaders, such as Andrew L Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, are taking a more assertive part in mapping the all-important union role in party operations.

Um, I was wondering, you are doing other things besides just reading and griping about everything that's wrong, right? Of course you are. We have a lot of work to do, and not much time. Right now my function is to help round up useful information for regular people like me, just trying to figure out what the hell's going on out there.

My pet project is encouraging voter registration and voting--it turned out to be very worthwhile last year. My state has a Democratic governor instead of the Republican who was supposed to win a no-contest election. Well, okay, there was this Independent spoiler who pulled a pretty good one on the Republican at the last minute, which did help, but I helped with the voter registration drive and the unexpected victory felt just like Christmas!

Pestering your elected reps and disseminating information throughout your family/friends/neighbors/co-workers network to jolt people out of this "oh, I'm just not political" complacency--that's stuff we all need to do be doing, every chance we get.

dystopia 2:44 PM - [Link]

US Report on 9/11 to Be 'Explosive'

A preview of coming attractions from the Miami Herald:

A long-awaited final report on the Sept 11, 2001, attacks will be released in the next two weeks, containing new information about US government mistakes and Saudi financing of terrorists.

Former Rep Tim Roemer, who served on the House Intelligence Committee and who has read the report, said it will be "highly explosive" when it becomes public...

The report will show that top Bush administration officials were warned in the summer of 2001 that the al Qaeda terrorist network had plans to hijack aircraft and launch a "spectacular attack."

Oh, my--heading into election year, no less. I'll have to wait until I see it before I get too excited, though. You never can tell with this bunch.

dystopia 2:18 PM - [Link]


I watched some cable news this morning--cautiously--and was surprised to find quite a bit of discussion on this subject, and it wasn't all cheerleading for you-know-who, either. That's so...unusual. I'm wondering why, and why now? Public pressure? Normal human disgust? Too big to spin? I dunno--I'm suspicious. Why weren't they reporting on this before the war started? Don't answer that--I know, I know...

This was what I was thinking about while I listened to the particulars being discussed:

As though this were normal! I mean the repeated visits Vice President Dick Cheney made to the CIA before the war in Iraq. The visits were, in fact, unprecedented. During my 27-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, no vice president ever came to us for a working visit...

That was Ray McGovern in the Hartford Courant a few weeks ago.

A little timeline for ya, from my bookmark file. Re-reading them in chronological order (with 20/20 hindsight) is pretty interesting--you know, like who said what when, and some other fiddles and fudges:

February 1: US Misquoting My Iraq Report, Says Blix
February 5: US Claim Dismissed by Blix
February 9: First Casualties in the Propaganda Firefight
February 11: Rice Lobbies Blix for Negative Report
February 20: Inspectors Call US Tips 'Garbage'
March 8: Documents Linking Iraq to Uranium Forged
March 12: With Friends Like Rumsfeld...
March 13: FBI Probes Fake Evidence of Nuclear Plans
March 14: Senator Wants Fake Iraq Documents Probed
March 15: Fake Document Tied to Niger Embassy
March 18: Nuclear Inspectors Reportedly Angry
March 19: The attack on Iraq started.
March 22: CIA Questioned Documents Linking Iraq, Uranium Ore

And, lest we forget--right in the middle of all that, this news broke:

The US Plan to Bug the UN Security Council: The Text
Revealed: US Dirty Tricks to Win UN Vote on Iraq
Spying Report No Shock To UN

I'm thinking they wanted to know who knew what at the UN about their bogus intel, because they knew it was bogus. Ya think?

I never thought I'd say something like this, but I think the CIA's getting screwed. They fought tooth and nail behind the scenes over a lot of this stuff before the war started, but now the Axis of, er, Powers That Be are blaming everything on them.

UPDATE: OMG (slap forehead)! I can't believe I left out Joseph Wilson; he's the diplomat who went to Niger to check out the documents in February 2002:

I thought the Niger matter was settled and went back to my life...

That's why I thought about Cheney this morning, and how he'd been spending so much time at the CIA before the war they were about to start charging him rent. How could he not know?

dystopia 1:46 PM - [Link]


George Marshall, of Marshall Plan fame, said:

If man does find the solution for world peace it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known.

No kiddin'.

dystopia 12:33 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 11

1656: Ann Austin and Mary Fisher were the first Quakers to arrive in America.

1779: Gen William Tryon raided Norwalk, CT, with over 2,600 Hessian and British soldiers and burned it down, leaving only six homes untouched.

1780: The long-awaited French squadron arrived in Newport, RI, with 7,000 troops under the command of le Comte de Rochambeau.

1782: The British evacuated Savannah, GA, after a successful campaign by Gen Mad Anthony Wayne.

1798: The US Marine Corps was created by Congress.

1804: Vice-President Aaron Burr provoked a duel with former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and mortally wounded him in Weehawken, NJ.

1823: US troops landed near Siquapa Bay, Cuba, in pursuit of pirates.

1836: President Jackson issued a Specie Circular, mandating that only gold and silver could be used in public lands transactions.

1869: US troops surprised Tall Bull and his warriors at Summit Springs, CO; in the ensuing battle, Tall Bull was killed and the Dog Soldiers were overwhelmed.

1877: A second major battle broke out in Montana between the Nimipu Indians and US troops; the Indians were forced to flee east along the Lolo Trail.

1892: Striking coal miners in Coeur d'Alene, ID, dynamited the Pinkerton barracks at the Frisco Mill and occupied the other mill properties.

1906: The Niagara Movement, the precursor to the NAACP, was founded.

1916: President Wilson signed the Federal Aid Road Act.

1941: President Roosevelt appointed William Donovan to head a new civilian intelligence agency as the Coordinator of Defense Information.

1947: Over 18,000 pineapple workers, represented by the ILWU, went on strike in Hawaii.

1954: The first white Citizens Council was organized in Indianola, MS.

1955: Following the McCarthy era, when no congressman would dare "vote against God," Congress authorized all US currency to state "In God We Trust."

1966: A Harris survey after bombing raids on the Hanoi-Haiphong area showed that 62% of those interviewed favored the raids, 11% were opposed, and 27% were undecided. Of those polled, 86% felt the raids would hasten the end of the Vietnam War.

1968: The American Indian Movement was founded in Minneapolis, MN.

1979: The abandoned US space station Skylab burned up upon reentry, showering debris over the Indian Ocean and Australia; President Carter apologized to the Australian PM for dropping NASA litter on his country.

1985: The US voted to impose sanctions against South Africa in protest of its apartheid policy.

1995: President Clinton announced normalization of relations with Vietnam, saying the time had come to move forward and bind up the wounds from the war.

2000: Arkansas Judge Leon Johnson announced he would preside over the disbarment case against President Clinton; several other judges had stepped aside from the case.

dystopia 10:43 AM - [Link]

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Lite Blogging Day

If you're looking for hard-hitting news bits, you might want to scroll on down to yesterday's posts if you haven't read them already--I found some good stuff.

Today, though, I just can't work up a good mad for anybody, so most of my posts are on a more personal and/or light-hearted note. If that's the sort of thing that makes you stick your finger down your throat and make gagging noises, I'm sorry. I'm sure I'll be back to my old self tomorrow.

dystopia 6:39 PM - [Link]

You Prob'ly Think This Song is About You...

Hee-hee! Wonder what they'd make of me? I own three, yes, three CDs. They are Deano and Frankie (love songs) and a very old Latin-language Marc Anthony for salsa dancing (and a little tango)--I like to shake a leg with DH every so often:

I've got the world on a string,
sittin' on a rainbow,
got the string around my finger...
What a world--what a life!
I'm in love...

I have to play CDs on the computer because I don't even own a stereo--well, there's a boom box but I can't find the power cord and I'm too cheap to spring for those big honkin' batteries. Don't have a Sega, or a cell phone, or even a pager. Nobody ever convinced me that I need any of those things.

Out in my little zipmobile, which still has a cassette player, I have everything from Glenn Miller to Queen's Live at Wembley. Sixties pop and R&B and 70s guitar rock are good (DH does a fantastic acoustic Nights in White Satin)--I even have Ted Nugent's Stranglehold, for nostalgic reasons, but I bought it before he turned up on a Behind the Music episode as a right-wing crank.

Have only one TV, in the living room. Have a phone but never answer it. Have a VCR, but haven't used it in years and it's just about obsolete anyway. I think I'm supposed to buy a DVD player now, but I kinda doubt that will happen.

Yep, it's true--the 21st century is draggin' me along behind it on a trailer hitch.

I really suck as a consumer--I'm Corporate America's nightmare.

dystopia 5:49 PM - [Link]

Pat Robertson Defends Liberian President

Oh, dear. I really wish Robertson would throw out his E-Z-read Bible digest and actually read the whole thing. It might make a world of difference in his investment decisions. MSNBC says he's got $8 million invested in gold mining in Charles Taylor's Liberia.

If I remember correctly...oh, yes, here it is: Robertson allegedly invested in blood diamonds in Africa as well.

Robertson's E-Z-Reader apparently failed to emphasize a few critical points, such as Colossians 3:5, which states that greed is idolatry--a major commandment violation, and also Matthew 25:40:

The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

Christians have been given very clear instructions for living this life, if we hope to fare well in the next. There aren't any loopholes.

dystopia 4:59 PM - [Link]

Even Google Couldn't Find the WMD

If you're feeling lucky, you might find this vintage bit instead.

A fun read in the Guardian.

dystopia 4:26 PM - [Link]

Blood Ties

My 3rd great-grandmother, Sarah Ann Jarrett, was born 180 years ago today, in 1823 in Jackson County, GA; she was the mother of 12 children and died at age 60 in Hall County, GA.

I don't know much about Sarah's life, but I think she may have been born on the wrong side of the sheets--Jarrett was her mother's maiden name, and I can't find any father in the family tree. Maybe I shouldn't say that too loud?

On a related note, I was just reading this op-ed piece by Lucian King Truscott IV in the NY Times about the war between the descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, when I saw some familiar names.

Mary Walker Randolph was the widow of William Mann Randolph, who was my fifth cousin, which means Truscott is also my (distant) cousin--didn't know that before.

I believe Sally Hemings' descendants are my cousins, too, and it doesn't bother me a bit to claim them as family. Why should it?

The only reason I know any of this, and I feel very lucky that I do, is that both my parents' families were good recordkeepers, and I also had a brainiac genealogist cousin on my dad's side who spent years traveling and scouring records with her own eyes throughout the eastern US and England, long before the Internet came along--which is the proper way to do genealogy. I was just thinking that one of these days I need to post some tips on finding out about your own American heritage, but I might as well do it now.

First, interview your family members and gather every detail of vital info they can remember--names, places, dates. Write it down. Get copies of any records they have.

You always want hard-copy records. Period. You can find all kinds of stuff, accurate and otherwise, on the Internet but, please, just use it to find clues, okay? I tried searching on the Internet to build on what records I already had, but it was just awful. I could find plenty of information, for sure, but whether or not it was true was another question. Lots of typos, skipped or repeated generations, mothers giving birth before they were born, children assigned to the wrong parents--that sort of thing.

And then there are the total inventions. When I learned about Gustave Anjou (and other frauds like his), that was it--I quit. Anjou was a Swedish con man who suckered wealthy New England families during the Gilded Age by "finding" European royalty in their family trees. He made a pretty good living at it, too, at $9000 a pop. Hundreds of his concocted genealogies were published and republished as fact throughout succeeding generations, so anyone strutting around the USA claiming to be descended from a hoity-toity New England family and European royalty is very likely a victim of Anjou.

In studying my family tree I did manage to find what I was looking for, and it wasn't names and dates. It was a sense of rootedness, of belonging here, of being a part of this huge family of millions of people across this country, far more interconnected by blood than most of us realize. This really is my country, and the people in it are my family, and that's why I take it so personally when the maniacs in Washington act like it's their own personal fiefdom.

It isn't, and I want it back.

If you're really interested in finding out your family's history, make the investment in time and money to obtain copies of vital records and learn how to find and interpret contemporary source documents, such as wills, deeds, census and church records. Don't just copy someone else's file off the Internet and think you know everything you need to know. I had to do plenty of deleting and backtracking before I finally got that pounded through my thick head.

Okay, now that you've been warned, here's a good place to try looking, and some genealogy how-to pages here and here. Just tread cautiously, and verify, verify, verify!

dystopia 2:12 PM - [Link]

Big Brother Gets a Brain

Noah Schachtman offers a status report on the Pentagon's plotting to track everything that moves, in the Village Voice :

Everything is set for a new Pentagon program to become perhaps the federal government's widest reaching, most invasive mechanism yet for keeping us all under watch. Not in the far-off, dystopian future. But here, and soon.

The military is scheduled to issue contracts for Combat Zones That See, or CTS, as early as September. The first demonstration should take place before next summer, according to a spokesperson. Approach a checkpoint at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, during the test and CTS will spot you. Turn the wheel on this sprawling, 8,656-acre army encampment, and CTS will record your action. Your face and license plate will likely be matched to those on terrorist watch lists. Make a move considered suspicious, and CTS will instantly report you to the authorities...

"Right now, this may be a military program," added Lewis. "But when it gets up and running, there's going to be a huge temptation to apply it to policing at home"—to keep tabs on ordinary citizens, whether or not they've done something wrong.

dystopia 12:50 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 10

1778: In support of the American Revolution, Louis XVI of France declared war on England.

1782: Washington wrote his former aide Col John Laurens, who failed to get permission from the Georgia legislature to raise a regiment of slaves; Washington attributed it to the "selfish passion" of the legislature.

1805: Col Thomas Butler was court-martialed for mutinous conduct after his commander banned officers from wearing their hair in the traditional pony tail. Butler had worn his tail in the Revolution and refused to cut it off; his sentence was forfeiture of a year's pay.

1832: President Jackson vetoed the Second National Bank's recharter on grounds that the bank was unconstitutional.

1862: Emperor Norton issued a mandate to the Hebrew, Protestant and Catholic churches to publicly ordain him as Emperor of the US and Protector of Mexico.

1864: More than 200 women and female children may have been sexually assaulted by Union infantry soldiers near the Roswell Cotton Mill in Georgia.

1886: The steamboat Reutan ran aground on a sandbar in Lake Michigan, causing new land to form on the Chicago waterfront; George Streeter proclaimed Streeterville a free district open to the poor and homeless, and defended it from cops and developers for over 25 years.

1890: Wyoming was the first state to grant women the vote.

1902: A coal mine explosion in Johnstown, PA, killed 112 workers.

1917: In the Jerome Deportation, over 200 men with rifles and pick handles rounded up striking Wobblies; 75 were put on cattle cars and released near Kingman, AZ, with orders not to return.

1925: In Illinois, cops burned all files of correspondence, documents and books belonging to the IWW, which were used as exhibits in their trial against Big Bill Haywood.

1925: In Dayton, TN, the so-called Monkey Trial began with John Scopes, a high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of state law.

1962: Rev Martin Luther King, Jr, convicted of charges from his 1961 desegregation campaign in Albany, GA, was sentenced to 45 days in jail.

1966: Rev Martin Luther King, Jr, began a Chicago campaign for fair housing.

1974: Sen Edward Gurney, President Nixon's lone defender on the Senate Watergate Committee, was indicted in Jacksonville, FL, on charges of influence peddling and extortion.

1984: President Reagan claimed his environmental record was "one of the best-kept secrets" of his Presidency; when a reporter asked where Anne Burford fit into that record, Larry Speakes stepped forward and ordered the lights turned off. Reagan standing behind his aide, quipped, "My guardian says I can't talk."

1991: President Bush lifted economic sanctions against South Africa, citing its "profound transformation" toward racial equality.

1998: The Diocese of Dallas agreed to pay $23.4 million to nine former altar boys who said they had been molested by a priest.

dystopia 10:03 AM - [Link]

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

First Interim Report of the 9/11 Investigation

The full text via Cryptome. As far as cooperating with the panel, everyone gets (more or less) passing grades except for--guess who?--the DOJ and DOD, those bull-headed rascals:

The Department of Justice has assisted the White House in resolving issues that have arisen in agency responses to our requests. But records requested from DOJ are overdue, and the Department has not yet been able to resolve important issues related to the Moussaoui case. We also disagree with the Administration's general insistence on having agency representatives present during interviews of serving officials, and this matter is still under discussion.

The problems that have arisen so far with the Department of Defense are becoming particularly serious. We have not received responses to requests relating to NORAD and other DOD components, including the JCS and the Department’s historical office. Delays are lengthening and agency points of contact have so far been unable to resolve them...

Stall, dissemble, obfuscate...just business as usual for the Wrecking Crew.

dystopia 4:45 PM - [Link]

Riddle as US Spy Chief Quits

Via Information Clearinghouse, a high-level official suddenly resigned last week in the midst of a secret investigation he was conducting at the Bush administration's request:

America's top spy catcher, Paul Redmond, has suddenly resigned in the middle of his secret investigation into how Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden allegedly obtained US computer software, the SUNDAY EXPRESS claimed this weekend.

The software is said to enable the two most wanted men in the world to avoid capture because it can pinpoint every move in the global manhunt.

Redmond's departure last week was accepted "without discussion" by President Bush, the man who had brought the spy catcher out of retirement to conduct the investigation...

But stunned colleagues in the Homeland Security department in Washington, where Redmond had his office, insist the former Associate Director of the CIA was in perfect health. His departure has led to intense speculation that he may have begun to uncover embarrassing details of how the software came into the hands of Saddam and bin Laden.

Oh, hell! I just realized this is the Inslaw thing; I missed that in the Sunday Express article. Man, I had a whole file on Inslaw at one time--do I still? Lemme look...nope, it's gone. DH made me clean some of the ickier stuff off the hard drive a while back, and that's one that went.

Try this place--it's hair-raising stuff, so strap your tinfoil hat on tightly.

dystopia 4:08 PM - [Link]

Marine Pilot Jailed for Refusing Vaccine

The persecution of members of our active-duty military by the US government continues, unabashed and unabated, according to Newsday:

A Marine helicopter pilot who refused on religious grounds to receive an anthrax vaccination was dismissed from the Corps on Tuesday and ordered to serve seven months in prison...

A September 2002 US General Accounting Office survey of 1,253 soldiers who received the anthrax vaccination found that 84 percent suffered minor reactions. At least 24 percent had major multiple "systemic" reactions, the latter more than 100 times higher than the estimate of the manufacturer.

"The people who refuse this are not the dummies or the troublemakers," said Lt Col John Richardson, a retired Air Force pilot who has criticized the vaccine. "I get two to three unsolicited calls or e-mails a week sometimes as many as five a day from kids who are sick. Someone has to stand up and do the right thing."

IMHO, simply saying "No" should be all that's necessary to avoid having any foreign substance injected into your body, military or civilian. To me, it's a basic human right.

Who benefits from forcing this and other Big Pharma products on the troops?

dystopia 3:48 PM - [Link]

"Texas is Missing an Idiot"

Real live headline from South Africa's Enjoy!

dystopia 3:29 PM - [Link]

Supreme Plot

The FEC found that Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty violated Florida election laws following the Election 2000 disaster, but the tale gets even twistier, according to the Daily Business Review:

According to Judge Hooper’s 36-page order, Stone, through his Washington, DC-based firm Ikon Public Affairs, was the real agent behind the campaign in late 2000 and 2001 to defeat the Florida justices in the 2002 merit retention election. But who, if anyone, was paying Stone and giving him orders remains unclear.

A complaint was not filed against Stone and no charges were filed against him. He never was questioned or offered testimony because neither the FEC nor McCarty was able to locate him to serve him with a subpoena. State investigators also did not pursue a number of leads that might have shed light on Stone’s role. Craig Snyder, Stone’s partner in Ikon Public Affairs, was never questioned either...

At the hearing, McCarty...testified that she was “played by Stone.” She admitted “stupid mistakes” and called herself a “victim.” In an earlier deposition, she called the Committee to Take Back Our Judiciary “a scam,” according to a transcript.

I can go with the "stupid" part. Go read the whole article--too many jaw-dropping details to excerpt here.

I poked around a little; it looks Roger Stone's a professional power broker who's been mixed up in casino gambling and some other things here and there.

dystopia 2:27 PM - [Link]

On TV Last Night

I watched:

Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard in Modern Times--loved it. Watched The Great Dictator a few months ago, about the same time Young Spasmodicus made his aircraft carrier debut--the parallels had me ROFL. The sequence with the globe--oh, my...

Have to laugh to keep from crying sometimes...

Couldn't find any laughs in Discovering Dominga, a POV episode on PBS, the devastating story of a young Mayan-American woman whose entire family was massacred in 1982 during the genocide in Guatemala--I cried like a baby. There are so many others like her, in so many different places.

dystopia 1:38 PM - [Link]

Holy Crap

I just found out I'm listed on BlogShares--how'd that happen?

I feel kinda conflicted about that, despising the whole stock market racket as I do.

On the other hand, my current stock price is $93.59. I guess that's a respectable amount?

I dunno--I've been clicking around trying to figure out what all these numbers mean, but it's just not my oeuvre.

dystopia 1:01 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 9

1519: Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés reached the Gulf of Mexico, founded the town of Villa Rica de la Veracruz and began his bloody conquest of Mexico.

1755: Gen Edward Braddock was wounded when French and Indian troops ambushed his force of British regulars and colonial militia near Pittsburgh, PA; he died three days later.

1779: Fairfield, CT, was burned because its militia shot at British raiders from within their houses.

1815: The first natural gas in the US was discovered during the digging of a salt brine well in Charleston, WV.

1892: 7,000 US troops were sent to Homestead, PA, to subdue striking steel workers who repulsed a Pinkerton attack in a bloody battle.

1893: Dr Daniel Hale Williams performed the first successful open heart surgery, an emergency procedure done without anesthesia; twenty years later, he was the only African-American in a group of 100 charter members of the American College of Surgeons.

1896: At the Democratic National Convention, William Jennings Bryan gave his famous speech: "The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error...You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold."

1917: Federal troops raided the IWW hall in Yakima, WA, during a massive lumber strike.

1917: Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, charged with conspiracy to defeat military registration under the conscription law, were sentenced to two years in prison.

1947: Gen Eisenhower appointed Florence Blanchfield a lieutenant colonel in the US Army, making her the first woman in US history to hold permanent military rank.

1951: President Truman asked Congress to formally end the state of war between the US and Germany.

1951: American novelist Dashiell Hammett was sentenced, choosing six months' imprisonment over co-operating with HUAC's inquiries into domestic "subversion."

1955: Einstein, Russell and seven other scientists warned that man's choice was between war and human survival, in the Russell-Einstein Manifesto.

1960: President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Khrushchev traded verbal threats over Cuba.

1966: The Soviet Union sent a note to the US embassy in Moscow charging that the air strikes on the port of Haiphong endangered four Soviet ships in the harbor.

1969: The US Department of Agriculture suspended the use of DDT pending the results of a study.

1971: The US turned over complete responsibility of the Demilitarized Zone to South Vietnamese units.

1978: 100,000 marched in Washington, DC, for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

1986: Attorney General Ed Meese's Commission on Pornography released the final draft of its 2,000-page report, which linked hard-core porn to sex crimes.

1991: Alan D Fiers, Jr, chief of the CIA's Central American Task Force, pled guilty to two counts withholding information from Congress in the Iran-Contra affair.

dystopia 10:21 AM - [Link]

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Appoint the Best to Iraq, Not the Best-Connected

Major Barbara showed me what I missed in Sunday's Washington Post:

In March, as war against Iraq loomed, Frederick "Skip" M Burkle, Jr, a senior official at the US Agency for International Development (AID), traveled to Kuwait with a disaster relief team to prepare for the aftereffects of the fighting. It was a natural assignment for Burkle. A physician with a master's degree in public health, he ran a trauma center near the Kuwaiti border during the first Gulf War and then went to northern Iraq to help with the Kurdish crisis. He traveled to Somalia and Kosovo to deal with the humanitarian emergencies there. A Naval reserve officer who earned several combat medals in Vietnam, Burkle set up a center at the University of Hawaii in the mid-1990s to promote cooperation between the military and relief organizations. In 2002, he joined AID as deputy assistant administrator for global health.

On April 10, as fighting continued in Baghdad, the 63-year-old Burkle arrived in the city to visit local hospitals and assess their needs. His convoy came under fire, however, and he was forced to leave. Two weeks later, he returned at the request of retired Lt Gen Jay Garner, then head of the US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance....Told that he was to serve as the senior US adviser to the Iraqi ministry of health, Burkle returned to Kuwait to collect his belongings.

There, however, he was abruptly informed that he had been relieved of his duties and replaced by James K Haveman, Jr. Unlike Burkle, Haveman, 60, was largely unknown among international public health professionals. A social worker by training, he has no medical degree or any formal instruction in public health, and he hasn't been in the military. From 1991 to 2002, he served in the cabinet of John Engler, the Republican governor of Michigan, directing state health programs. Most of Haveman's recent overseas experience had come through International Aid, a Christian relief organization that provides health care and spreads the Gospel in the Third World.

dystopia 5:25 PM - [Link]

Palm Bay Man Has Eye for Detail

The Apostropher pointed me to this article in Florida Today:

On May 25, while scanning the Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program images pipelined into his desktop from 450 miles in orbit, Hank Brandli skidded at a nighttime photo of Iraq. It looked familiar. But not exactly.

Brandli retrieved another DMSP image he'd archived from May 3. He compared the two. The most recent photo showed a blazing corridor of light running the length of Kuwait, south to north, all the way to the Iraqi border. The image wasn't there on May 3.

"It's going right up to Iraq's oil fields," says the retired Air Force colonel from his home in Palm Bay. "Maybe I'm full of s---. Maybe all they're doing is building a highway to put in McDonald's and sell hamburgers. But why go that way? I think we're in bed with Kuwait. I think we're pumping oil out of Iraq to pay for this war"...

"If you're building pipelines, you've got to have power, you've got to have light -- trucks and personnel and food and all sorts of support. If I had to bet, I'd say it looks like we're running Iraqi oil through Kuwait. It would make sense, because Kuwait's got its infrastructure intact."

Brandli was a pioneer in satellite meteorology whose defense work was kept secret until 1995, when vaults full of Cold War satellite images were declassified. It seems to me that he'd be someone who should know what he's looking at.

dystopia 5:05 PM - [Link]

Exposed: The Carlyle Group

Watch the entire 48-minute video online. The first couple of minutes is in Dutch, but the rest is in English with Dutch subtitles, which should be your first clue that it wasn't produced by an American mainstream media outfit. The second clue is the documentary's content.

Shocked! Shocked, I tell you...

dystopia 3:19 PM - [Link]

Court Rejects Bid to Stop Cheney Lawsuit

In Chapter 46 of the Cheney Energy Documents saga, the Washington Post reports:

A federal appeals court Tuesday rejected the Bush administration's bid to stop a lawsuit that seeks to delve into the energy industry's ties to Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force.

In a 2-1 ruling, the court said administration officials must turn over some information about the task force or list specific documents that they intend to withhold from the proceedings...

Bush administration officials have not even produced a log of documents they want to keep confidential, the appeals court said.

Well, of course not--because they don't intend to hand over any documents, ever.

dystopia 2:59 PM - [Link]

Bigger Than Watergate: How to Rig an Election

The Scoop has everything you need to know about electronic voting machines.

Trust me on this one--you do need to know.

dystopia 2:36 PM - [Link]

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Boy Wander & Co running jack-booted over the locals already, via Yahoo! News:

N'diaye and other residents of Goree, site of a famous slave trading station, said they had been taken to a football ground on the other side of the quaint island at 6 am and told to wait there until Bush had departed, around midday.

Bush came to Goree to tour the red-brick Slave House, where Africans were kept in shackles before being shipped across a perilous sea to a lifetime of servitude.

He then gave an eloquent speech about the horrors of slavery, standing at a podium under a sizzling sun near a red-stone museum, topped by cannon pointing out to the sea.

The cooped-up residents were not impressed.

"It's slavery all over again...It's humiliating. The island was deserted."

OMG, the whole freakin' trip is gonna be like this, isn't it?

dystopia 2:15 PM - [Link]

Slain Marine's Father Lost Job Over Activism

A grieving dad was given Hobson's choice for exercising the freedoms his son pledged to protect, per the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Fernando Suarez del Solar said one of the owners of Mi California told him he was spending too much time speaking out against the war with Iraq and that his views threatened to cost the company business from people who didn't agree with him.

"He gave me an option: leave politics alone and dedicate myself 100 percent to work; or dedicate myself to politics," Suarez said yesterday...

Suarez said he poured his energy into keeping his son's memory alive and in doing so found himself speaking out against the war. He has been active with a local group that promotes alternatives to joining the military, has emphasized the US government's failure to provide proof of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and has called for an investigation into American deaths by friendly fire.

dystopia 1:46 PM - [Link]

New Data Debunks Malpractice Lawsuit "Crisis"

According to Public Citizen, new US government data shows that both the number and amount of payments to medical malpractice victims declined in 2002:

The US Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on legislation that would significantly limit patients’ ability to hold medical providers accountable for negligence. The bill, S. 11, would arbitrarily cap the amount of non-economic damages available to malpractice victims at $250,000, which would penalize those most harmed by doctors and other health care providers.

The bill’s proponents claim that malpractice insurance rates are rising because of malpractice awards to patients, but all available data show that the legal system has no impact on insurance rates. Rather, insurance rates are tied to investment returns from the bond and stock markets and to the competitive economics of the insurance cycle.

"It’s clear from these numbers that the insurance premium increases over the past year are not tied to lawsuits...The only thing that correlates with the premium increases is the decline in malpractice insurers’ investment income."

dystopia 1:21 PM - [Link]

Medical Examiner in Klausutis Case Fired

The ME who examined the dead staffer found in former Rep Joe Scarborough's Florida office just got canned, per WEAR-Pensacola:

Starting July first, the Okaloosa/Walton medical examiner will be out of the job he's held the last six years.

Dr. Michael Berkland has been dismissed by the Medical Examiner's Office in Pensacola.

The Florida Medical Examiner's Commission had complained of his failure to complete dozens of autopsy reports in 2001 and 2002, a violation of state statutes.

Before he went to work in Florida, Berkland's medical license was revoked in Missouri for falsifying autopsies.

dystopia 1:03 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 8

1524: Italian explorer Verrazano wrote a letter about his discoveries in the New World to King Francis I, which became the basis for French claims of territory.

1663: King Charles II granted a charter to Roger Williams for the Rhode Island colony, recognizing its boundaries and its self-elected government.

1777: Vermont became the first American colony to abolish slavery.

1799: The Russian American Company was granted a monopoly on trading on the Alaskan coast for 20 years by Czar Paul.

1800: Dr Benjamin Waterhouse gave the first cowpox vaccination to his son to prevent smallpox.

1862: President Lincoln signed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law.

1864: The Chehalis Indian reservation was created by executive order.

1871: The recklessly profligate practices of William "Boss" Tweed, the NYC official who helped pioneer urban America's lucrative version of government corruption, were exposed in the NY Times.

1876: Whites killed five black militia members in South Carolina's Hamburg Massacre.

1945: Eight German POWs were killed and 20 wounded in Salina, UT, when prison guard Pvt Clarence Bertucci sprayed tents of sleeping POWs with machine gun fire. Bertucci showed no remorse; he said he hated Germans and wanted to kill them.

1954: Col Carlos Castillo Armas was elected president of the CIA-backed junta that overthrew the administration of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman.

1959: Vietnamese guerrillas ambushed two US advisors, the first American casualties since 1946 in Vietnam.

1960: The Soviet Union charged Francis Gary Powers with espionage, after he was shot down in a U-2 spy plane.

1965: Ambassador Maxwell Taylor resigned from his post after an argument with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Gen Westmoreland; he disagreed with the shift from counterinsurgency to large-scale ground operations by US units in Vietnam.

1970: The Taos Pueblo recovered the sacred Blue Lake from the federal government.

1976: Former President Nixon was disbarred by the NY Bar; he tried to resign voluntarily, but the Bar refused to accept his resignation unless he acknowledged that he obstructed justice during the Watergate coverup.

1980: Congress enacted the Hopi-Navajo Relocation Act to "solve" the problem of impeded access to coal deposits at Big Mountain, AZ.

1995: Chinese-American activist Harry Wu was arrested in China and charged with obtaining state secrets; he was later convicted and deported.

1998: Butyric acid was dumped at four abortion clinics in Houston, TX.

dystopia 10:30 AM - [Link]

Monday, July 07, 2003

K Street Shuts Off Texas Dems' Funds

If you still need further proof that the legalized bribery lobbying industry has become way too powerful in this country, try this article in The Hill:

Departing from past practice, some lobbyists say they are withholding contributions to House Texas Democrats until the state’s congressional redistricting fight is resolved.

While many of these lobbyists represent groups with Republican sympathies, they have often hedged their bets by giving to the Democrats as well...

“At the end of the day, we want [our clients] to have the most effective use of their PAC dollars,” said Styles. “And if they want to keep their ratio, there’s still no reason why they should give to these Democrats who are ultimately going to be losers.”

dystopia 5:51 PM - [Link]

Missing Plane Turns Up in Guinea

They finally found that plane that's been giving everyone fits, per the Scotsman:

It had been re-sprayed and given the Guinean registration, 3XGOM. But, at least the last two letters of its former tail-number, N844AA, were still visible...

"There’s no absolutely doubt it’s the same aircraft. The old registration is clearly visible," said Mr Strother...

Western intelligence agencies were said to be scouring Africa’s skies and runways for the missing plane, egged on by fears that it could easily be aimed at an American or British embassy in Africa...

A Western diplomat in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, said it was more likely the plane had simply been snatched from Luanda because its owner was reluctant to pay year-long airport taxes..."There’s always a shady side to business around here," he said. "But as for the terrorism stuff, that sounds like a complete load of rubbish."

dystopia 5:31 PM - [Link]

Marine in POW Rescue Dies in Car Crash

An unfortunate young Marine died on his first weekend home from the war, before he could tell the story America's dying to hear. From CNN:

Josh Speer was killed when his car veered off the road, overturned several times and struck trees Sunday morning. The 21-year-old soldier was heading to see his fiancee.

Capt Shawn Turner, a Marine Corps spokesman, said Speer served with the Marine unit that aided in Lynch's rescue. Turner said details of what Speer's unit did to help Lynch, the Army private captured by Iraqis, were unavailable.

Speer was wearing his seat belt, state Highway Patrol Lance Cpl Dan Marsceau said.

My first impulse was to reach for my tinfoil hat but, really, I don't want to think that. Too heinous.

I'm sure the troops involved in Lynch's rescue had it very strongly impressed upon them that they should not talk about it to anyone, but I imagine hearing about Speer's death, regardless of its cause, will probably make them feel even more reluctant to talk.

dystopia 3:41 PM - [Link]

Death of a Dirty Fighter

A former CIA spook, said to be one vicious dude, is remembered in the Asia Times:

Anthony A "Tony Poe" Poshepny, a decorated former official of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who collected enemy ears, dropped decapitated human heads from the air on to communists and stuck heads on spikes...waged failed secret wars for the United States in Indonesia, Tibet and Laos...was often compared to the Marlon Brando character Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now...

"He successfully fought terror with terror. He strove to instill courage and respect in the tribal and indigenous forces that he recruited and trained as well as fear in the enemy. In the post-September 11 security environment, fearless men like Tony Poe are what America needs to combat and counter terrorism and the new unconventional threat that America faces from abroad in exotic and uncharted lands," Smith said.

You know what's even more frightening than guys like Poshepny? Guys like Smith, who worship them.

An FYI for Smith: Those lands are indeed charted--just not on American balance sheets.

UPDATE: What happened to Tony Poe's trainees after the US left Laos, in the Independent:

The three subsequently presented a report to the US Congress which said: "When the United States pulled out of the war in Vietnam and left South-east Asia [in 1975], we left the Hmong, Mien, Khamu, and Lao soldiers who fought in the CIA-sponsored Secret Army of Laos to fend for themselves."

The report alleged that Lao and Vietnamese forces were "systematically exterminating" them, and warned that "without immediate intervention" there was "little hope" for these people...

"For 26 years these people have lived in the jungle holding on to the hope that their American allies would come to their rescue"...Two Time magazine journalists managed to reach the guerrillas earlier this year, and returned with pictures of emaciated fighters, weeping and begging on their knees for their help.

It seems to be the only way we know how to treat our indigenous allies--use 'em and lose 'em.

dystopia 3:14 PM - [Link]

EPA Pumps Up Its Record

The Sacramento Bee probes the huge load of bullshit dropped by the Bush Administration on the EPA:

In the name of "homeland security," the EPA has tapped several of its environmental crime investigators to stand guard at major sports events and serve as bodyguards for Christie Whitman, who stepped down in late June as the Bush administration's top environmental official.

The EPA opened a new criminal case whenever it dispatched agents on Whitman business trips -- 47 times in fiscal year 2002 -- though agency officials say they excluded these cases from their publicly reported tallies...

In the past few months, however, several agents have complained anonymously through an advocacy group and to the news media that their core job of nailing polluters has been diminished as a result of the EPA's continued investment in counterterrorism.

In May, EPA headquarters abruptly cut a significant part of investigators' travel budgets, ordered field agents to turn in their cell phones or satellite text pagers and suspended environmental crimes training, according to internal memos.

dystopia 2:40 PM - [Link]

Bush Pushes for Next Generation of Nukes

In USA Today:

If the Bush administration succeeds in its determined but little-noticed push to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons, this sun-baked desert flatland 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas could once again reverberate with the ground-shaking thumps of nuclear explosions that used to be common here.

Oh, I noticed all right:

Senate Votes to End Ban on 'Mini-Nukes'
Kennedy Warns on Nuclear Tests
Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons

dystopia 2:06 PM - [Link]

What He Didn't Find in Africa

Yet another career diplomat spills his guts--this time it's Joseph Wilson, the "unnamed former envoy" who went to Africa to personally check out the forged Nigerian documents--in the NY Times:

The next morning, I met with Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick at the embassy. For reasons that are understandable, the embassy staff has always kept a close eye on Niger's uranium business. I was not surprised, then, when the ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq — and that she felt she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington...

Given the structure of the consortiums that operated the mines, it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq. Niger's uranium business consists of two mines, Somair and Cominak, which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests. If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired...

Before I left Niger, I briefed the ambassador on my findings, which were consistent with her own. I also shared my conclusions with members of her staff. In early March, I arrived in Washington and promptly provided a detailed briefing to the CIA I later shared my conclusions with the State Department African Affairs Bureau. There was nothing secret or earth-shattering in my report, just as there was nothing secret about my trip...

I thought the Niger matter was settled and went back to my life...

dystopia 1:48 PM - [Link]

Coalition Troops Looted, Vandalized Iraqi Airport

Humiliating news from TIME:

What was then called Saddam International Airport fell to soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division on April 3. For the next two weeks, airport workers say, soldiers sleeping in the airport's main terminal helped themselves to items in the duty-free shop, including alcohol, cassettes, perfume, cigarettes and expensive watches. Welsh, who arrived in Iraq in late April, was so alarmed by the thievery that he rounded up a group of Iraqi airport employees to help him clean out the shop and its storage area. He locked everything in two containers and turned them over to the shop's owner...

Coalition soldiers also vandalized the airport, American sources say. A boardroom table that Welsh and Iraqi civil-aviation authority officials sat around in early May was, a week later, a pile of glass and splintered wood. Terminal windows were smashed, and almost every door in the building was broken, says Welsh. A TIME photographer who flew out of the airport on April 12 saw wrecked furniture and English-language graffiti throughout the airport office building as well as a sign warning that soldiers caught vandalizing or looting would be court-martialed...

The airplanes suffered the greatest damage. Of the 10 Iraqi Airways jets on the tarmac when the airport fell, a US inspection in early May found that five were serviceable: three 727s, a 747 and a 737. Over the next few weeks, US soldiers looking for comfortable seats and souvenirs ripped out many of the planes' fittings, slashed seats, damaged cockpit equipment and popped out every windshield. "It's unlikely any of the planes will fly again"...

Who was in command of these troops and why weren't they stopped? Oh, never mind. I guess we only needed the runways intact--who gives a crap about anything over there that doesn't produce oil, right?

dystopia 1:36 PM - [Link]

Troop Morale in Iraq Hits Rock Bottom

According to the Christian Science Monitor:

Some frustrated troops stationed in Iraq are writing letters to representatives in Congress to request their units be repatriated. "Most soldiers would empty their bank accounts just for a plane ticket home," said one recent Congressional letter written by an Army soldier now based in Iraq....

In some units, there has been an increase in letters from the Red Cross stating soldiers are needed at home, as well as daily instances of female troops being sent home due to pregnancy...

The open-ended deployments in Iraq are lowering morale among some ground troops, who say constantly shifting time tables are reducing confidence in their leadership. "The way we have been treated and the continuous lies told to our families back home has devastated us all," a soldier in Iraq wrote in a letter to Congress.

dystopia 1:17 PM - [Link]

2004 Presidential Candidate Selector

Interesting. My results:

1. Kucinich 100%
2. Kerry 83%
3. Lieberman 73%
4. Gephardt 70%
5. Edwards 68%
6. Dean 66%
7. Sharpton 65%
8. Moseley-Braun 60%
9. Graham 57%
10. Libertarian Candidate 37%
11. Bush 15%
12. Phillips 0%
13. LaRouche -10%

I guess I need to start deciding who I'm going to support. I know this much already--Lieberman and Gephardt can go piss up a rope.

dystopia 12:31 PM - [Link]

Today in Dystopian History: July 7

1540: The Spanish stormed the Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico; Francisco Vasquez de Coronado believed it was one of the Seven Cities of Gold.

1742: In the Battle of Bloody Marsh, a Spanish force invading Georgia ran headlong into its British defenders; Gen James Oglethorpe and his men defeated the Spanish on St Simons Island.

1831: The Georgia Guard arrested Samuel Worcester for “exciting the Indians to oppose jurisdiction of the state.”

1835: President Andrew Jackson approved a measure to keep traders and runaway slave hunters out of the Seminole territory in order to quickly end the conflict between white Floridians and the Seminoles.

1844: In Philadelphia, Irish Catholics and nativist Protestants waged a cannon battle at the Church of St Philip de Neri; 13 were killed.

1846: The American flag was raised at Monterey by Commodore Sloat, who decided to take possession of California because he feared the British might occupy it.

1863: Lt Col Christopher "Kit" Carson began a campaign against the Indians of New Mexico and Arizona, waging a destructive war against the Navajo that resulted in their removal from the Four Corners area to southeastern New Mexico.

1863: The first military draft was established by the US; exemptions cost $100.

1865: Four Lincoln assassination conspirators, including Mary Surratt, were hanged.

1887: The Bayonet Constitution was forced on King Kalakaua by the all-white Hawaiian League, stripping the power of the sovereign and removing the native Hawaiian majority's dominance at the polls and in the Legislature.

1898: President McKinley signed the illegal annexation of Hawaii, after annexationists in Congress devised a plan to circumvent the 2/3 vote requirement for ratification and substituted a resolution of annexation that was approved by the House and Senate.

1903: Labor organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones led the March of the Mill Children from Philadelphia to President Roosevelt's summer home in Oyster Bay, NY, to publicize the harsh conditions of child labor and to demand a 55-hour work week; Roosevelt refused to see them.

1948: The first women Navy officers were sworn in.

1972: The first women FBI agents were sworn in.

1976: The first women were enrolled at the US Military Academy at West Point, NY.

1981: President Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, as the first female justice.

1987: Oliver North began his public testimony under a grant of immunity in the Iran-Contra affair, telling Congress that he had "never carried out a single act, not one" without authorization.

1988: The first of many syringes, blood vials and other hospital trash--some contaminated with the AIDS virus--washed ashore on Long Island, forcing the closing of miles of beaches during the worst East Coast heat wave of the decade.

1999: President Clinton became the first president since FDR to visit an Indian reservation, as he toured Pine Ridge in South Dakota.

dystopia 10:42 AM - [Link]

Listen While You Surf:


i.e. America Radio

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A Rational Animal



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Professional Opinions:

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Books Worth Reading (linked to reviews):

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood (1986)

How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes from an Impeachment Summer, by Jimmy Breslin (1975)

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar (1990)

Big Blues: The Unmaking of IBM, by Paul Carroll (1993)

Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (1962)

The Road Ahead, by Bill Gates with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson (1996)

Charismatic Chaos, by John F MacArthur, Jr (1992)

The American Way of Birth, by Jessica Mitford (1992)

Ethel: A Fictional Autobiography, by Tema Nason (1990)

Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street, and the Frustration of American Politics, by Kevin Phillips (1994)

Flying High: The Story of Boeing and the Rise of the Jetliner Industry, by Eugene Rodgers (1996)

Clearing the Air, by Daniel Schorr (1977)

Trammell Crow, Master Builder: The Story of America's Largest Real Estate Empire, by Robert Sobel (1989)

The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed, by David Stockman (1986)

Oil Man: The Story of Frank Phillips and the Birth of Phillips Petroleum, by Michael Wallis (1995)

Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976, by Jules Witcover (1977)

Belly Up: The Collapse of the Penn Square Bank, by Philip L Zweig (1985)